Why did the town of Ridgely, Maryland, suddenly run out of police? This is the reason

A small town in the eastern shore of maryland, The United States suspended its entire police force pending the results of an investigation by state prosecutors, a largely inexplicable decision that has left residents shocked, skeptical and nervous.

What happened in Ridgely suggests that even the country's most rural communities are feeling the effects of the outrage generated by the murder of George Floyd.

Without a police force In Ridgely, at least temporarily, people are worried about response times if they need help. And they still don't know why they closed their police department.

In a statement posted on the city government's website last week, officials said Ridgely's three-member commission had “suspended with pay the entire Ridgely Police Department” and that the state attorney's office — which handles cases of public misconduct, election fraud—ethics law violations and more, is investigating.

Ridgely under 'magnifying glass' for police practices

He Ridgely COODavid Crist, refused to provide The Associated Press even basic information about suspensions, including the number of police officers. The department's website says it employs a half-dozen officers.

“We were caught off guard,” said Holly Justice, a spa owner in Ridgely. “It makes you question the integrity of the people they are supposed to protect and serve.”

It is not the first time that Ridgely is under scrutiny for his police practices. The department made headlines several years ago when its then-chief was involved in the 2018 death of 19-year-old Anton Black in neighboring Greensboro.

Black died after officers restrained him for more than five minutes while handcuffing and shackling him.

His family presented a wrongful death lawsuit and received a 5 million settlement of dollars from three East Coast towns, including Ridgely.

Crime in the county has been notoriously low for decades. According to federal crime data, Caroline County, which includes Ridgely, has reported four homicides since 2000.

And in Ridgely, the violent crimes They peaked in 2010, with a total of 41 incidents reported.

But Black's deadly arrest was a sadly familiar scenario: a young black man taking his last breath during a traumatic encounter with police.

The Maryland legislators passed a package of police accountability measures in 2021 that included a Black memorial project to expand public access to police disciplinary records.